Saturday, May 26, 2018
Editorials

Romney stumbles on way to Tampa

Since his easy win in the Florida primary six weeks ago, Mitt Romney's sprint to Tampa to claim the Republican presidential nomination at the party's national convention has become a long slog. His losses to Rick Santorum in Alabama and Mississippi this week highlight his weaknesses and reflect the deep divisions within the party. Yet Romney remains the Republicans' only viable candidate for the general election, and he has to be as convincing as he makes that argument next week in Illinois as he was in January in Florida.

Santorum's victories in the South cemented his position as the conservative alternative, the role initially sought by such now-forgotten flashes as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry. Newt Gingrich remains in the race fueled only by ego, the casino owner bankrolling an independent ad campaign and his bogus claim that he can magically reduce the cost of gasoline to $2.50 a gallon. Ron Paul has morphed from the entertaining uncle talking about the gold standard to just another familiar face whose moment has long passed.

That doesn't make Santorum a viable option. The former Pennsylvania senator does not recognize the separation of church and state, and his hard-edged opposition to abortion rights is at odds with the law, court rulings and public opinion. Santorum indirectly questioned President Barack Obama's Christianity by referring to his agenda as some "phony theology,'' and he said President John F. Kennedy's speech affirming the separation of church and state made him want to "throw up." He may appeal to enough conservative voters to win a Republican primary in Alabama, but he is not an electable national candidate.

However radical in his beliefs, Santorum comes off as approachable and sincere in his values. That is where Romney falls short. His positions too often seem contrived or inconsistent, highlighted by his defense of the Massachusetts health care plan he helped create as governor and his vow to seek the repeal of the similar national health care reforms. But his biggest liability is the perception that he is a wealthy businessman who is out of touch and can't connect with voters. His observation in Michigan that his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs and his new affection in Mississippi for "cheesy grits" aren't helping.

The Republicans can blame themselves for this primary process that is not helping their case for replacing Obama. They miscalculated by creating a long primary schedule front-loaded with few large diverse states other than Florida, which broke the rules. That has allowed the so-called super PACs to spend millions on negative ads that created a sour atmosphere. The schedule also accentuated the deep philosophical and cultural divides within the Republican Party and overemphasized the voices of evangelicals and other conservatives who prefer ideological purity over electability.

Despite the media talk of a brokered convention, Romney remains well ahead in the delegate count. He's come back from losses before and won Florida, Ohio and Michigan. But to confirm his reservation for Tampa, Romney has to keep winning big states and make a more compelling case that he is the Republican best positioned to compete in a general election.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18